Aside from making things look good in 2D, graphic designers play a vital role in keeping the economic ball rolling by communicating ideas, products, stories and information to the masses. This of course requires a means of delivery, and more often then not this takes the form of printed paper.
Here in lies the dilemma, the forestry, pulping, manufacturing and printing of paper has a huge negative environmental impact. Most trees used for paper production are harvested from ‘virgin’ forests often in ecological valuable, biologically diverse areas (Towards a Sustainable Paper Cycle 1996).
The introduction of computers promised a ‘paperless society’ yet the reality is, the use of paper is ever increasing with Australians using over 4,011,000 tons of paper in 2003, that’s enough to fill semi-trailers lined up from Melbourne to Perth (Clean Up Australia)!
In fact 1/3 of the total amount of paper consumed globally is used as printed paper, mostly attributed to the graphic design and publication industry (Australian Plantation Products and paper industry council 2004-05).
So all you graphic designers out there listen up. Good design is about understanding impacts and limitations and finding solutions that fit within the parameters. In other words, do what you need to do with the least impact – go graphically green.
Designers make decisions that ‘lock-in’ environmental impacts. The size, shape, colour, printing style, and paper stock choices will ultimately determine the ecological footprint of your design. By making informed decisions right from the get go, designers can reduce the environmental impact of their design resulting in less CO2, less waste and the more efficient use of natural resources.
Check out this eco graphic design guide that I developed for tips on reducing the environmental impact of your graphic product: (www.cfd.rmit.edu.au/content/download/736/5884/file/Eco%20Design%20Guide%20for%20Graphic%20Designers.pdf)
**Please note: I am not a graphic designer, hence the not very-graphically designed – eco graphic design guide…!